News Nosh 06.17.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday June 17, 2015 

Quote of the day:
"This is a terrorist act holding thousands of Palestinians hostage."
--Meretz party chief MK Zehava Gal-On says she won't withdraw her bill to require labeling of settlement products sold in Israel, despite settler factories' threats to fire Palestinian employees.**


Breaking News:
Siren sounds in Golan as fighting rages across Syria border
An alliance of Syrian rebels launches an offensive against Assad military bases in the Quneitra province, triggering sirens. No rocket landings reported. Read more in News Summary. (Haaretz and Ynet)

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Trans fats prohibited from use in US
  • UNRWA: Hamas hid weapons at our facilities
  • Rent skyrocketing because of delay in law
  • Health Ministry: Every person suspected of having MERS will be isolated
  • They stole my body – Following the decision by Yedioth not to publish any more photos of using Photoshop to narrow women’s dimensions, Yarden Harel remembers how she felt when the paper took 10kg off of her in the computer
  • We sent three Israeli opera singers to perform their repertoire at the most explosive place in the world (Damascus Gate)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Civil war reaches the Hermon – The Druze dilemma; Chief of Staff: IDF likely to act to prevent a massacre
  • “Obama intentionally deteriorated the relations with Israel” – Michael Oren
  • Movie on Yigal Amir won’t be screened at film festival
  • Greetings from David’s kingdom – Archaeologists: The Hebrew name on the vase proof of Kingdom of David and Shlomo
  • Abu Mazen dismantling the Palestinian government
  • Thousands at event marking one year since the murder of the three teens

News Summary:
Israel is in a dilemma over Syrian Druze, the Culture Minister Miri Regev stops funding Arab theater and impels film festival to remove film, former ambassador to US and now an MK, Michael Oren makes controversial statements in new book, and the US and Hamas denied talks and invitations with and of Israel, while Israel eases restrictions over Palestinians ahead of Ramadan, which starts this evening. Also a bitter verbal fight broke out in a Knesset committee between Arab and right-wing MKs, but interestingly Maariv reported on the debate in a way that was very different from the reality seen in the attached video.
 
Israel fears it may get pulled into Syria’s civil war. This morning sirens went off due to the fighting so close to the border. Israel sent a message Tuesday to Nusra Front rebels in Syria to stop attacks on Syria's Druze after two Syrian army soldiers guarding Hader, a Druze village opposite Majdal Shams, killed their Druze commander Tuesday morning and defected to Nusra Front, after which the Nusra Front began an offensive on Hader, Maariv’s Yossi Melman reported (also published in JPost). [Note: The Druze in Syria are loyal to Assad and Nusra Front is al-Qaeda affiliate fighting Assad – allegedly with some IDF support. – OH] The IDF started closing roads in the northern Golan Heights from yesterday morning, local Druze told Maariv. Other papers wrote that the IDF closed main roads there for three hours in the evening to prevent Druze on the Israeli-annexed side from rushing over to save their brethren from massacre on the Syrian side. Just hours earlier, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot promised the IDF would prevent a massacre of refugees on the Golan border, if a large number of them fled to Israel's border. Jewish and Druze reserve infantry officers wrote the Defense Minister Tuesday calling on Israel to intervene on behalf of the Druze community and remove them from the fighting after the attack by Nusra Front, Maariv reported. Last week, Nusra Front killed 20 Druze villagers on the Syrian side of the Golan and later apologized. [Note: Israel has been reportedly giving the anti-Assad Nusra Front support. Three months ago, the Shin Bet arrested an IDF Druze soldier suspected of exposing a secret meeting between Nusra Front and Israel.]
 
The moves against freedom of expression by Culture Minister Miri Regev continue to make headlines. She halted funding to Haifa's Arab Al-Midan theater for a play that an Education Ministry committee approved and the Jerusalem Film Festival dropped the screening of a film about Yitzhak Rabin’s murderer, Yigal Amir, after she threatened to halt funding to that, too. The festival agreed to screen the film outside the festival. The film probes human motivations and follows Amir’s daily life. President Reuven Rivlin seemed as concerned as many of the artists about Regev’s censorship policies. "Art is not the property of this or that camp, the right or the left, Mizrachi or Ashkenazi. Woe to us if art falls victim to dangerous politicization from one side or another,” he said yesterday. But some artists support the Minister of Culture and dozens held a gathering Tuesday to express their opposition to the remarks made at the previous emergency session of artists, Maariv reported. Yishai Lapidot, one of the organizers, said, "We are first of all Jews and Israelis and after that we are artists.” Another source in the field, who asked to remain anonymous, said he would not attend the event. “There are artists who agree with the minister's way but are afraid of expressing support for it so that they won’t be immediately marked as crazy right-wingers," he said. 

MK Michael Oren (Kahlon’s Kulanu party), had some headline-making statements in his new book. The man who was Israel's envoy in Washington between 2009-2013 wrote that American Jewish journalists lead media’s anti-Israeli assault and that antagonism towards Binyamin Netanyahu is akin to historic hatred of Jews. And in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that he penned to promote his new book, he wrote that US President Barack Obama abandoned Israel intentionally and deliberately damaged US-Israel ties. He also wrote that the US altered its 40-year policy on the ’67 lines without consulting Israel. Meanwhile, the papers reported that the White House denied the Yedioth report that Obama invited Netanyahu for a Washington meeting, but Yedioth insisted that “senior political sources in Jerusalem” confirmed the invitation.  
 
And Haaretz reported that Hamas denied the reports of talks with Israel over a long-term cease-fire and a senior Hamas activist said it won’t reach an agreement without the support of all Palestinian factions, including Fatah. But a source told AFP, "There have been indirect contact between Israel and Hamas, messages passed via Arab channels as well as through European and Turkish sources.” Meanwhile, Chief of Staff Eisenkot said that the IDF is trying to improve the economic situation in Gaza, mainly by allowing trucks to enter, and that meanwhile, organizations in Gaza that are more extreme than Hamas have been growing stronger and more popular recently, and have been conducting more significant operations there.

Ramadan begins this evening here and the Eisenkot ordered an ease of travel and prayer restrictions on Palestinians, including traveling freely to Israel and to Gaza and for some even passes to leave the country from Ben-Gurion airport to visit family abroad.
  
A discussion about the Temple Mount in the Knesset Interior Committee broke up after a verbal confrontation between Arab and right-wing MKs Tuesday. The Committee chairman was forced to end the meeting (held at the request of Habayit Hayehudi MK Yinon Magal) “on the worsening discrimination against Jews who go to pray at the shrine,” wrote Maariv’s Arik Bender. Bender wrote:  (Joint List) MK Jamal Zahalka caused a storm when he threatened that if Jews went to the Temple Mount, ‘blood will flow.’ He added: ‘Over my dead body Jews will pray on the Temple Mount.’ During the discussion, Zahalka turned to (far right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu) MK Sharon Gal and called him ‘a fascist.’ Gal responded: ‘If I am a fascist, you are a terrorist.’”
Interestingly, the YouTube video of the dispute reveals Zahalka differently from how he was portrayed in the online article. Zahalka did not say Muslim would spill blood but that Muslims' blood could be spilled if Israel tries to split Al-Aqsa between Jews and Muslims. The video begins mid-sentence with MK Zahalka saying: “There are people who use religion to cause harm others. As long as it doesn’t harm, that’s wonderful, but if you come and you harm others in a place like Al-Aqsa, so, simply, I am against you. I am against what you do. There is no problem for anyone to visit Al-Aqsa. There is a problem with visits that are provocations, there is a problem with visits and entries with police escorts in order to come and make a declaration that we came here in order to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque like they did at the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron). They want to divide Al-Aqsa, so that there will be places and times for Jews to pray – and I’m telling you this won’t happen. It won’t happen. You say the Muslims will agree. The Muslims won’t agree. Never. Never. Even with force. Even if blood is spilled, I’m telling you. [Some MKs start to raise their voices.] We won’t hurt anyone [raising his voice over the din]. We won’t hurt anyone. I’m against violence. You won’t be able to force this. [More unclear shouts of other MKs] Learn Hebrew. Learn Hebrew, don’t interrupt my statements. You are vulgar.”
MK Sharon Gal: Chutzpan, don’t threaten us. Who is the sovereign here? What is this? Who is the sovereign here? Who are you anyway [pointing to Arab MKs]? It’s mine. It’s mine.
[Arab MKs shout: You are occupiers.]
MK Sharon Gal: You won’t change history. It’s ours.
Arab MKs: You are occupiers.
MK Sharon Gal: This is liberated land. And Temple Mount should be (liberated) in practice and that’s what we’re going to do if there is a real right-wing government.
MK Zahalka: He is bloodthirsty. He wants to kill the Muslims so that the Jews….(unclear)…That won’t happen…We are against spilling blood.
[Arguing continues and Interior Committee Chair MK Dudi Amsalem fails to stop it so he ends the discussion.]

Quick Hits:
  • Knesset extends law banning Palestinian family reunification - The 'emergency' legislation preventing Palestinians married to Israelis from becoming citizens or residents is voted on each year; however, a decision was made this week to allow more in-depth discussion next year before the Knesset vote. (Haaretz+)
  • **"Cancel the bill you proposed or we will fire thousands of Palestinians" - Meretz bill to require marking settlement products infuriates the Samaria Settlers' Committee. In a letter it sent to Meretz chair MK Zehava Gal-On in the name of settler factories employing Palestinians it wrote: "You and your party will carry the responsibility for thousands of Arabs who will remain without a livelihood." Gal-On: "This is a terrorist act holding thousands of Palestinians hostage." Some 10% of West Bank Arabs work in settler factories. (Maariv, p. 1 and Jpost)
  • Public Security Minister vows to limit number of undocumented interrogations - Knesset approves in first reading bill to extend by 5 years the statute allowing police not to use audio or videotapes during interrogations of possible security suspects. (Haaretz+) 
  • IDF to ease restrictions on Palestinians over the month of Ramadan -  Coordinator of government activity in the territories announces series of moves designed to allow freer travel and prayer at request of Chief of Staff Eizenkot. (Haaretz+, Maariv and Ynet)
  • Palestinian unity government to dissolve itself in coming days, Abbas says - The government, which formed after seven years of rift between Hamas and Fatah, has not succeeded in implementing the reconciliation agreement; the next cabinet is still expected to be 'national' and to comprise the various factions. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • UNRWA chief: Gaza militants hid weapons in our facilities - Head of UN relief agency criticizes Palestinians for stockpiles found in facilities during Operation Protective Edge, but also takes issue with Israel. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Hamas smuggling thousands of tons of cement into Gaza through Egypt - Extended opening of Rafah border crossing allows Islamist group to smuggle in some 4,000 tons of cement a day to rebuild tunnels. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • New bill proposes NGO representatives wear IDs - Habayit Hayehudi MK Smotrich submits amendment seeking to increase government monitoring of NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments. (Ynet)
  • Alon Shvut terrorist says wanted to stab Jews but failed - Palestinian who rammed his car into Israelis waiting at bus stop outside Alon Shvut says he acted alone and on his own initiative. (Ynet)
  • In rare move, attorney general orders journalist to testify in Ehud Barak graft case - Maariv’s Ben Caspit has claimed the police avoided investigating the former defense minister. (Haaretz+) 
  • Journalists rage at Foreign Ministry's Hamas cartoon - Foreign Press Association condemns foreign ministry cartoon as 'inappropriate' after 17 journalists died in Operation Protective Edge. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • IDF closes the battlion that found the bodies of the teens in Gush Etzion - 14 years after its establishment, the Lavi Battalion will be dismantled and its soldiers will be dispersed among the other battalions of the Kfir Brigade. The reason: streamlining of the military. (Maariv)
  • ‘Two States - One Homeland’ initiative launched despite threats - Two States One Homeland, a movement founded by Israeli and Palestinian activists interested in dialogue, switched conference location last week from outside Green Line to within. Prominent guests on Right, Left canceled participation due to political pressure. The new movement offers an unusual solution to the conflict - without exchanges of territory, without a separation fence and with two types of IDs. (Israel Hayom and TimeOutIsrael)
  • Arab MK attends anti-Israel meeting with Knesset approval - Joint Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi received approval to attend Columbia University panel, but failed to mention the name: "Israel, Racism and Apartheid." "MK Zoabi has never filed a detailed itinerary, nor will she do so in the future," her office says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Sanctions on Iran? Companies in the West are looking into (business with) Tehran - A nuclear agreement has not yet been signed with Iran, sanctions are still in force, but in practice they have been dissolved. Representatives of Western companies are standing in line to meet with the Iranian minister of transportation who is being officially hosted by the Paris Air Show. (Maariv)
  • 3 Israeli groups operate against Israel within UN, (far right-wing) study finds - "The report proves that the roots of the boycott and delegitimization efforts are right under our noses, in Israeli organizations that are in part supported by European governments and foreign funds," says CEO of right-wing Zionist organization Im Tirtzu. (Israel Hayom)
  • For first time, haredi soldiers to serve in naval combat roles - Israeli Navy seeks to expand ultra-Orthodox soldiers' service, promotes plan to include them in security missions along maritime borders • Haredi soldiers joining Navy combat units will have all their needs met, official says. (Israel Hayom)
  • AG okays police probe of deputy Knesset speaker Hazan for assault - Hazan suspected of committing the assault in late 2014 following an argument. A police investigation into sexual harassment complaints against Hazan is also expected. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Orange boss sues over 'death threats' amid Israel spat - Stephane RIchard, who angered many with his remark on withdrawing from Israel, files complaint after personal details leaked online. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Local anthropologists speak out against academic boycott of Israel - The statement by the Israeli association comes as a debate is being conducted by the American Anthropological Association about a boycott on Israel. (Haaretz+) 
  • Michael Douglas: "I thank my son, who brought me back to Judaism. I discovered it late" - At a panel at the Peres Center for peace, the US actor, Shimon Peres, and Jewish Agency director Natan Sharansky, discussed promoting peace in the Jewish world and the need to fight the boycott of Israel. Douglas is in Israel to receive the Genesis Prize for humanitarian work and commitment to Jewish heritage. He also took a tour given by the IDF of a Hamas tunnel and the southern front. (MaarivTimes of Israel and JPost)
  • French immigration to Israel slowing down - But dramatic rise posted in new arrivals from Ukraine and Russia. (Haaretz+)
  • French immigration to Israel surges in summer 2015 - FIve months after Paris terror attack targeting Jews, 25 percent more French Jews moved to Israel in early 2015 than in the same period in 2014. (Ynet)
  • What's in a name? Rare inscription from King David's era found outside Jerusalem - Together with similar findings, the discovery of a name on a 3,000-year-old clay pot has changed the understanding of how prevalent writing was in the Kingdom of Judah. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Egypt's Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood leaders sentenced to death - The court last month sought the death penalty for Morsi after he and his fellow defendants, including Brotherhood leader Badie, were convicted in cases related to a 2011 mass jail break and conspiring with foreign groups. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Middle East Updates / Kurds seize full control of ISIS border stronghold - US official says UN sanctions could be reapplied if Iran cheats in nuke deal; at least 23,000 refugees flee Syrian fighting into Turkey; Egypt's Morsi sentenced TO death; intense rebel shelling of Aleppo kills more than 30, monitor says. (Haaretz)


Features:
Look who’s talking : A young man went out to explain Israel abroad and came back with a new book
What causes a young man to leave everything and go out on a voluntary basis in the United States to campaign for the State of Israel? Ran Bar-Yoshafat summarizes the experience, tells about the curses he got and declares: "We can win if we understand the problem." (Eyal Levy, Maariv magazine supplement)

Commentary/Analysis: 
How realistic is Michael Oren’s assertion of ‘no daylight’? (Ron Kampeas, Haaretz) 'Aspirationally, there should be no surprises,' says David Makovsky, a member of the U.S. team that attempted to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace last year. 'This is not always the case on either side.'
No one to oppose Culture Ministry's Stalinist spirit (Haaretz Editorial) Miri Regev's decision to not to permit the film about Yigal Amir to be screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival was received a tailwind from those dubbed 'leaders of the opposition.'
‘Illiberal democracy’ in action (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Minister Miri Regev seeks to destroy the old cultural memory and replace it with a fundamentalist national culture. 
Does Israel's legal system really protect minorities? (Daniel Friedmann, Yedioth/Ynet) While the residents of southern Tel Aviv are a minority, the Supreme Court only recently revoked the defense they need in favor of a different minority – the infiltrators. 
Palestinian bravery vs. the Israeli army (Amira Hass, Haaretz) Had it not been for the cameras, the eyewitness reports about the armed soldiers who beat a Palestinian protester would have been dubbed as dubious 'allegations.' 
Egypt has the key: Cairo is softening its position toward Hamas (Yossi Melman, Maariv) President al-Sisi thwarted every attempt for a long-term solution in the Gaza Strip. After he changed his position, it’s no wonder that rumors of contacts between Israel and Hamas over a hudna (long-term truce) have re-emerged. 
Israel's culture war is beyond left and right (Avi Shilon, Haaretz+) Deputy Knesset Speaker Hazan, for one, does not necessarily represent the right, but rather a vulgar current in Israeli society.
Images and insults in Israel's ruling party (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth/Ynet) Whoever is offended by actor Oded Kotler's 'beasts' comments assumes that he is right, that all members of the Likud Central Committee members chew grass or sausages, that the voters censor art like a mindless herd – and that they are followed by the politicians.
It's not the 'occupation' (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The boycott movement is a continuation of the campaign against our return to Zion.
Artists in the Israel of Netanyahu: The 1970s Soviet intelligentsia of today (Dmitry Shumsky, Haaretz+) The messianic ideology on behalf of which Minister Miri Regev acts to oppress contemporary Israeli culture and art and to replace it with Jewish-settler culture, is now at the height of its power. 
Will the real Reuven Rivlin please stand up? (Alex Sinclair, Haaretz) Does Israel’s president want to work with Jewish leaders abroad to seek coexistence and tolerance at home, or is he more interested in rejecting non-Orthodox Jews?
Evil spirit of BDS growing stronger in US (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Surveys showing a record support for Israel among the American public opinion are an illusion; the anti-Israel atmosphere is infiltrating the most important centers of power and knowledge.
Minister Miri Regev - Netanyahu's knight of cultural chauvinism (Carlo Strenger, Haaretz+) Culture Minister Regev highlights how desperately Israel needs leaders who understand that a liberal democracy is not just majority rule but also the defense of minority rights and the freedom of thought and speech. 
Nothing short of a revolution (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) In establishing a new cyber military branch, the IDF chief of staff has made one of the most significant decisions he will make during his term.
External threats won't stop Al-Qaida and ISIS, but internal disputes might (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Killing of Al-Qaida's No. 2 in Yemen could briefly affect group's local operations, but won't cause the organization to change ideology or moderate its ambitions.
'South Park'-style video mocking Gaza war coverage angers foreign journalists in Israel (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Board of Foreign Press Association says 'surprised and alarmed' by Foreign Ministry's video: 'Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry.'
Netanyahu's genius: Israel's culture of the Feelgood Bully (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) He knows the most basic secret of Israelis and their unique culture, the character trait which unites a shocking number of us.
  

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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